The Listening Day

Like Kelvin, in the end I was glad I was there. I didn’t particularly look forward to it – too much angst and too many false starts for that.

So what did I learn? Hard to say really. I think the witnesses whom I listened to reminded me of the – in the best sense – ordinariness of faithful gay relationships. I remember thinking the same sitting in a restaurant in a gay district of San Francisco. Ordinary, everyday people getting on with their lives.

You can’t do everything in just one event. But there are at least two other aspects to this. One is the need to understand and find a way of responding to the anger, passion, hurt, sense of exclusion – yesterday was necessarily too cautious for that. The other is Malcolm Round’s point – agreeably made, I thought – that the fact that we have all been agreeable does not mean that we agree.

But for now – thanks particularly to the witnesses and to the organisers.

And I’ll go on trying to deal with some of the specifics through the comments on my Conspiracy blog of a while back.  I have learnt something else from that.  Face to face engagement is the only way of dealing with the feelings – Kelvin’s tears tell us that.  I’ve been shy of blogging about it because of who is listening in.  But the blog does give you the chance to reflect for a day or two on a reply – so there’s a chance of measured dialogue with a bit of space.  And the fact that we know one another means that it can’t be passion-free either.


  1. I felt that I was losing the thread of some of that. At the moment, I am pondering the question of how all this is going to be resolved. Will it be throught a spiritually-shaped process of healing and reconciliation. Or will the ‘ordinariness’ factor come through – my comment about our clergy ‘having made their peace with this issue’ – that we will find an anglican way forward which somehow embraces views which always seem on the edge of irreconcilable. Or will we just tear ourselves apart. If I had to choose between resolving conflict and managing it, I would always choose the former. But that choice may not be on offer – in which case I’ll settle for managing it for now.

  2. I don’t know if you have heard about the happenings in West Texas at the polygamous FLDS compound, but it was pointed out recently by at least one US columnist that there did not seem to be the same level of moral outrage coming from conservatives over what has happened there as there has been over the subject of Gay marriage.

    I do wish that people would stop stereotyping all gay people as living wild bed-hopping lives. None of the ones I know are anything like that at all. Instead it would be nice to hear what is being done to deal with the biggest threat to marriage – divorce.

    I’m the adult child of two divorced adults who can’t even remember when her parents were not divorced.

  3. Ian, in Scotland, at least, Changing Attitude works towards supporting loving and faithful relationships, not casual sex (straight or gay). The pamphlet you refer to from Changing Attitude in England is by the Gay Clergy Working Group and quite clearly states that it is based on the personal theologies of the five people who worked on it.

    As for bisexuality: that is a way of describing a person who has physical and emotional attractions to both men and women. It does not imply that the person is in multiple sexual relationships. A bisexual person is faithful by choosing to be faithful to one person — just the same as anyone else.

    But of course you are right that there are a multiplicity of voices among those who work for ‘full inclusion’. In the same way, there are some conservatives who will tolerate divorce, and others who won’t. Some who will accept the ordination of women and others who won’t. etc.

    We don’t have to agree on every point to stay together in faithful relationship.

  4. Well Ian, I suggest listening to the voice of Scripture. In there you will find very specific requirements and definitions concerning sexual behavior. While refreshing your knowledge of these things, do remember ++ABC Rowan refered to some sexual activities as “contrary to the plain word of God.”

    Here in the Colonies, those who would impose non scriptural sexual norms simply dismiss anything in Scripture that disagrees with them. They say the Holy Spirit told them to do that.

    This is a cool idea. For instance there is this really neat woman in the choir that let me know we should meet somewhere after church and not for prayers. True story. The Holy Spirit surely is speaking through her don’t you think?


  5. I think the problem for those who are instinctively conservative is that there is a constant shifting of the goalposts. First it was lesbian and gay people in faithful relationships; then bisexual people were included (how can one be faithful if one is shifting between gender preference?); then the Changing Attitudes website includes a pamphlet on sexual ethics that suggests casual sexual encounters might be moments of grace. To which voices should we listen?

  6. I feel sure that the ordinariness to which you refer is the key to a chunk of the problem. When the majority realise that is si indeed ordinary, will it not make a difference to the knee-jerk reaction?
    I think we need to move to the ‘no big deal’ position if all are to be one.

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